Pakistan’s National Youth Carnival brings madrassa, mainstream students together

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A student at a singing competition during the National Youth Carnival 2017 in Peshawar on Monday. (AN photo)
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A student at a painting competition during the National Youth Carnival 2017 at Peshawar Sports Complex. (AN photo)
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A traditional Qehwa stall at the National Youth Carnival 2017 at Peshawar Sports Complex. (AN photo)
Updated 12 December 2017
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Pakistan’s National Youth Carnival brings madrassa, mainstream students together

PESHAWAR: Monday’s rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered at the Peshawar Sports Complex to enjoy the National Youth Carnival 2017 — also attended this year by madrassa students.
“The annual event was launched in 2013, and each year we try to improve it,” Mohammed Usman from Liaison Corp., which is managing the event, told Arab News.
“This year, we decided to include madrassa students because they’re considered a deprived segment of society, and they normally have few opportunities of this kind.”
The carnival, which started on Dec. 8, is the biggest extra-curricular activity for youth in Pakistan, he said.
Shahid Amin, a teacher at Jamiat-ur-Rashid in Karachi, said 21 students from the madrassa are participating in 14 categories.
“This is the first time we participate in such an event. Our students are competing in categories such as painting, calligraphy, qirat, na’at, essay writing and others,” he told Arab News.
Amin lauded Peshawar’s hospitality, and encouraged more madrassas to participate in such events.
Student Rehmat Wali, who is participating in an essay-writing competition, told Arab News that there should be such a competition in Arabic too since most madrassa students know the language.
Saddam Khan, a student at Abasyn University, said each of the 30 categories is being managed by five or six volunteers, most of them university students.
Asfandyar Khattak, director of youth affairs in the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), said the carnival selection trials for candidates began on Oct. 5, and 13,000 students took part in the preliminary competitions. He added that 1,100 students are now participating at the provincial and national levels.
Besides accessing regular schools and colleges, an online form was made available, through which 350 private students applied for the carnival, Khattak said, adding that 17 madrassas were invited to participate.
“Most of the madrassa students are participating in qirat, na’at, calligraphy, painting and essay writing in different languages,” he told Arab News.
It is a great opportunity to promote extra-curricular activities and integrate madrassa students into mainstream activities, he said, adding that the event is improving with each passing year.
“Last year we conducted competitions in 26 categories. This year there are 30. We plan to include oral and written competitions in Arabic next year, since most madrassa students are adept at the language,” he said.
Sports Minister Mehmood Khan and KPK Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said the provincial government spent 65 million Pakistani rupees ($593,450) on the event. Prizes worth 5 million Pakistani rupees are being given to competition winners, they added.
Youth from member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) — comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — will be invited to next year’s event, Qaiser said.


US says it will stop Canadian pot businessmen at border

Updated 17 min 55 sec ago
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US says it will stop Canadian pot businessmen at border

WASHINGTON: Canada may have legalized recreational marijuana Wednesday, but executives of the country’s booming pot industry need to be aware that they are not exactly welcome south of the border in the United States.
As the world’s first major economy fully legalized cannabis, officials of US Customs and Border Protection warned they won’t admit anyone arriving with the intent “to aid in the proliferation of the marijuana business.”
Even if some US states and localities, including the capital Washington, permit medical or recreational pot use, the CBP warned that the drug remains illegal under US federal law, giving them the responsibility to fight its use and promotion.
“If... a Canadian is coming to the United States and it has nothing to do with the marijuana industry or the proliferation of the industry, that person would generally be deemed admissible,” CBP officer Christopher Perry said in a press conference in Detroit, Michigan, on the Canadian border.
But “if they’re coming to the United States... with the express interest to facilitate or develop the marijuana industry, they would generally be deemed inadmissible.”
The stance posed a new threat to the already extensive cross-border exchanges of supplies, technology and investment in the marijuana sector.
Canadian companies have already lent funding and expertise to US cannabis companies in the eight states like Colorado, California and Maine where recreational use is allowed, and around 30 others which permit medical marijuana.
Moreover, shares in a number of Canadian pot firms are traded on US stock markets, including the largest, Canopy Growth Corporation, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Theoretically, the CBP’s stance could prevent their executives from traveling to US financial centers on business, which could be considered supporting “proliferation” of pot.
The seemingly contradictory stance arises from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ determination to enforce the federal ban on marijuana.
Amid growing acceptance across the country of the drug, on January 4 Sessions rescinded standing federal government policies to tolerate the stance of state and local governments, declaring “a return to the rule of law.”
At the same time, Sessions permitted federal prosecutors to exercise their own discretion in their regions.